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Thursday, 25 September 1958

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Just touch on it now and again.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I refer particularly to page 23 of that report, where, in paragraph 34, the following appears: -

In recent years. South Australia made considerable progress particularly in industrial develop ment, although there have also been significant gains in primary industries and great improvements in agricultural practice.

It is on that paragraph that I wish to say something before I move on to the next point. I should like to tell the House how South Australia has made this progress in industrial development. I disagree, however, with the statement of the commission that significant gains have been made in primary industries. The fact is that there have been no such significant gains in primary industries, and whoever pulled the legs of the members of the commission and persuaded them to believe that there have been significant gains in primary industries is to be congratulated on his sublety of argument and the way he was able to put it over these men, who are, or should be, experts in assessing the facts. In South Australia, as the population figures so clearly show, the number of persons engaged in agricultural pursuits and primary industries is steadily becoming smaller and smaller. The proportion of people engaged in primary industries, to the total population, is, I repeat, becoming smaller and smaller. Do those facts support the silly contention of the commission that there have been significant gains in primary industries? Of course, they do not. The land of South Australia is steadily passing into fewer and fewer hands, and in the process it is becoming less productive than would be the case if it were in the hands of a larger number of individuals.

I wish, however, to deal at the moment with the question of industrial expansion. The reason why South Australia has achieved levels of industrial expansion beyond those of some other States is that in South Australia the Liberal Government has taken legislative action to ensure that the working conditions and remuneration of persons engaged in industry are less favorable than those granted in other States. Consequently, greedy employers who, in other circumstances, might go to New South Wales or Victoria, where there are natural facilities of advantage to manufacturing concerns, establish their industries in South Australia. They do not do this because the Premier is some kind of a magician, or a man who has been able to induce industrialists to come to his State simply by means of the logical arguments that he can advance, but because he has been able to show that workers in South Australia are always very much worse off than those in other States.

Let me give a few examples. In every other State a worker, after twenty years' service with an employer, is entitled to three months' long service leave, the service being calculated on a retrospective basis back to the year 1934. The South Australian Liberal Government was able to continue the advantage which the employers in that State had enjoyed over those in other States by passing an act of Parliament which provides, in effect, that no matter how long you have worked for an employer, even if it is as long as 40 years, all you will get in the matter of long service leave is retrospectivity for seven years. That provision is written into the statutes of South Australia. So bad was the law which the Playford Government passed in respect of long service leave that the employers themselves could see the injustice of it.

Mr Anderson - What has this to do with the States Grants Bill?

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am explaining that the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission speaks of great industrial expansion, and I am showing honorable members that this industrial expansion has been made possible at the expense of the wages and working conditions of employees. If the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) will listen to what T am . saying, instead of reading his book and occasionally interjecting, he will realize that the point I am making is that in South Australia an employer is obliged to give retrospectivity in respect of long service "leave for seven years only. In all the other States they are compelled to go back for twenty years. The injustice of this was so apparent that the employers repudiated it. The Liberal Government had done its job so well that the employers were too ashamed to accept the benefits of it. They entered into a private agreement with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, granting to the workers of South Australia the conditions enjoyed by workers in all other States - that is, three months' long service leave after twenty years' service with retrospectivity to 1934.

T refer now to the cost of living adjustments. The House will know that the industrial court in Queensland has always continued to recognize quarterly cost of living adjustments, so that when the cost of living rises each quarter, the Queensland industrial court, as is proper, increases the basic wage to compensate for the rise in the cost of living. In New South Wales, the Labour Government provided by act of Parliament that every person working under a New South Wales award would receive quarterly cost of living adjustments in order to compensate fully for any increase in the cost of living. Indeed, that should be so; a worker should be compensated for an increase in the cost of living. In Victoria, the Labour government did the same thing. Until the Labour government was defeated as a result of the coalition of the D.L.P. with the L.C.L., introducing the Bolte Government, workers received cost of living adjustments. However, as with the Liberal Government in South Australia, the Liberal Government in Victoria decided to discontinue the quarterly cost of living adjustments. It saw nothing wrong with the workers being compelled to meet the rising cost of living out of the pegged wage. It thought that it would be entirely wrong for the prices of the goods which the bosses had to sell to be pegged, but saw nothing wrong with pegging the price of the thing that the worker had to sell, his labour power.

That is another reason why employers have seen advantages in going to South Australia instead of to other States. They can see that South Australia is the State which faithfully looks after the interests of the employers to the detriment of the employees, by pegging wages. No matter what the increased cost of living may be, the workers in South Australia do not receive any increase of the basic wage, although these increases are given to workers covered by State awards in New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and, to a lesser extent, Tasmania. Workers in South Australia must wait until there is a re-adjustment, usually once each year, by the federal Arbitration Court.

Mr Forbes - Conditions in South Australia are so bad that workers go there in large numbers!

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Workers go there in large numbers because this Government has been so bad that many workers are out of employment and they are glad to get a job anywhere. The fact is that we have a bad Commonwealth Government which ensures that there is a pool of unemployed in the other States and a bad Liberal Government in South Australia which ensures that the workers there receive poor rates of pay and have bad working conditions. There we have the perfect synthesis of the two things - a bad federal government creating unemployment in the other States, and thus forcing workers to go to South Australia and accept the rotten conditions tolerated by the bad State Government.

I turn now to workers' compensation to show the extent to which the Liberal Government of South Australia has used its legislative powers to give to employers interested in the establishment of secondary industries, special advantages in South Australia which they would not enjoy in the other States. In South Australia, if a worker with a wife and five, six or even 26 children - the number does not matter - is killed, the only compensation paid to the widow is an amount less than £3,000. She is paid off by the employer through the insurance company and told, "There is your £2,800; as far as we are concerned, you can go away and rear your family of little babies and educate them as best you can. We could not care less."

In the more enlightened State of New South Wales, provision is made for very much higher payments. In New South Wales, a worker who is incapacitated for life is entitled to workers' compensation for life. But in South Australia, if a worker is permanently incapacitated, all that the South Australian Government does is to pay him for six months at a weekly rate. He is then given a lump sum to wipe off the employer's indebtedness to him for the rest of his life. The employer can wipe his hands clean by saying, " It is bad luck that you have been maimed for life, but here is a paltry couple of thousand pounds; we hope this will provide you with a handsome living for life ". This Commonwealth Government, bad as it is, recognizes that a person who is permanenty incapacitated is entitled to compensation for life. But that is not so in South Australia. This is just another instance of the way in which the South Australian Government uses its legislative powers to depress the conditions of workers there. By providing inadequate workers' compensation, poor wages and so on, it has been able to give to secondary industries in South Australia special advantages that they could not get in the other States.

Now I want to contrast the attitude of the South Australian Government to secondary industries in the provision of railway services with its attitude to the ordinary worker. It is of no use for the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who is at the table, to keep looking to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for some help.

Mr Cramer - You are not talking much about the bill before the House.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, know what the Standing Orders are and would have corrected me if I had been wrong. As a matter of fact, if you, Sir, did not know more about the Standing Orders than the Minister knows about the Army, you would not be in the chair.

The matter is important. The South Australian Government, which asks the Commonwealth Grants Commission for extra money, is spending enormous sums in providing railway lines for secondary industries and is then imposing heavy taxes on the taxpayers of South Australia so that it can pay for them, or is asking the Commonwealth Grants Commission for an extra handout to meet the cost. But when it is confronted by the need for a reduction in the fares of the workers going to and from work, far from reducing fares it increases them, in exactly the same way as the Victorian Bolte Government increased fares immediately after the last State election there. The South Australian Government apparently does not think that there is anything wrong with the State building a spur line from Port Augusta to Whyalla in order to meet the requirements of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. It can pour hundreds of thousands of pounds down the drain to provide that line for the B.H.P.

Mr Forbes - Do you not want that line?

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Of course I want it, but the State government thinks nothing of taxing the taxpayers of South Australia so that it can give the benefit of the line to the B.H.P. I should like to see the South Australian Government act on the Dickenson report and say, " Very well, as the B.H.P. has repudiated its undertaking to establish a steel works in South Australia, we will establish a steel works of our own at Whyalla and use the South Australian ore deposits in a publicly owned and controlled industry."

Mr Cramer - Nationalization of industry!


Mr Cramer - Is that one of the industries you would nationalize?

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Call it nationalization if you like. Call it what you like, but it is one of the industries that I would place under public control for the reason that the iron ore deposits in South Australia were not put there by the Creator merely for the benefit of the shareholders of the B.H.P. ; they were put there - and I am glad that you agree with me - for the benefit of the people, not only of South Australia, but indeed of Australia. If anyone is to get the benefit of those deposits, it should be the people of Australia.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member must get on to the State grants now.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The Commonwealth Grants Commission mentions the cost of providing water and reference to that is contained in this recommendation. It mentions the excessive cost of country water supply undertakings. I shall explain to the House why the cost of country water supply undertakings is excessive in South Australia. When the B.H.P. asked for a special water supply to be provided from the river Murray at Mannum across to Whyalla, the South Australian Government decided to tax the taxpayers of South Australia and to put on the whole of the water reticulation system of South Australia the enormous cost of providing a 300-mile pipe line from Mannum to Whyalla. As soon as the water reached Whyalla, the Government allowed the B.H.P. to have exclusive control over the distribution of it at a rate that was hopelessly out of accord with the real cost of bringing the water from Mannum to Whyalla. For the Commonwealth Grants Commission to refer here to the exorbitant cost of the country water supply without directing attention to the fact that one reason for the great cost is the Libera] government's special consideration for the B.H.P. is, to my mind, a gross dereliction of duty by the commission. It may have been impressed by the fact that the South Australian Government was able to say that among the new industries that are to be developed in that State there will be a new steel industry, and that South Australia has a shipbuilding industry. But the commission was not told by the representatives of the South Australian Government that, in order to induce the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to establish the shipbuilding yard at Whyalla it had given that company control over the leases of iron ore deposits in South Australia for another 50 years.

I want to deal now, if you will allow me to do so, Sir, with the subject of decentralization, because the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission mentions the fact that there has been a great deal of centralization of industries in the metropolitan area in South Australia. It seems to have been surprised at this unusual development of industries near the metropolitan area, with very little industrial development elsewhere, and it mentioned that this was one of the reasons why railway revenues were down. Railway revenues are not likely to be as great in these circumstances because the people in the metropolitan area use the transport services provided by the Tramways Trust, and municipal or private bus services. The Commonwealth Grants Commission should have paid some attention to the reasons why this centralization of industry has occurred in South Australia, and it should have told the South Australian Government that it was not prepared to continue handing out money to South Australia while the government of the State allowed centralization of industry to continue at the present rate, because it has perfect opportunities to decentralize industry throughout the State. The commission should have told the South Australian Government that it was expected to establish new industries at the port of Wallaroo - a magnificent port with all the necessary facilities already available for industry. It is a deep sea port that is accessible throughout the year, and, indeed, it is a better port, than Adelaide has. The commission should have told the South Australian Government that it was about time it established more industries at Port Lincoln and in the Barker area.

Mr Curtin - The present member would be thrown out then.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - We know very well that the " rajah " would not be here very long if industries were established there. The Liberals are frightened, and that is why they are not establishing industries in the country areas. As you know, Sir, if industries were established in the country, the balance of the population would be changed and people would be taken out into the country areas, and, instead of 26 country seats being held by Liberals, as is the case under the present system of gerrymandering in South Australia, those country seats would be held by Labour men, and the effectiveness of the gerrymandering in South Australia would be destroyed.

What does the South Australian Government do when it comes to decentralization? It spends vast sums of money on the establishment of the satellite town of Elizabeth instead of on establishing new industries at country centres such as Port Lincoln, Wallaroo and Mount Gambier, to name but a few excellent places for the decentralization of industry. Instead of establishing industries in those places, the South Australian Government preferred to spend money on establishing this town of Elizabeth no more than 9 or 10 miles from the Adelaide General Post Office, thus exacerbating the position and making the centralization of industry and population even worse than it was before.

I want to talk about housing now. This is a matter that was referred to by the Commonwealth Grants Commission in its report. The honorable member for Barker referred to the situation in Queensland. All I want to say is that, if he makes a comparison between Queensland and South Australia on the issue of housing, he will find that South Australia is badly lacking. I visited Queensland when the Labour Government was in office, but I have not been there since the crowd at present in office took over. The government housing authority in Queensland is called a housing commission, as is the case in some other States, although we in South Australia call the South Australian body a housing trust.

When I was in Queensland, I found that whenever a new housing commission settlement was established good footpaths and roads, and deep drainage - and, indeed, every facility that is needed for a good residential area - were provided. But what is done in South Australia? Housing trust settlements are established in newly developed areas, and absolutely no provision is made for footpaths and roads, or, in many instances, for deep drainage. As a result, years after some of these settlements have been established, one visits them only at his peril, because it is impossible, especially in winter time, to drive a car on what are regarded as roads there. I can cite one place in my own electorate, at Kidman Park, where, some nine years after the housing trust settlement was established, it is still not possible for the postman to deliver letters to the houses, because, in winter time, his bicycle would become bogged if he tried to ride along what pass for footpaths and roads in order to deliver letters. In Grange-road and Frogmoreroad, one can see as many as sixteen or twenty letter-boxes affixed to the one post, because the postman cannot go nearer to the homes within the settlement than the boundaries represented by Frogmore-road and Grange-road. Yet, in spite of these things, a Liberal member in this House has the cheek to say that South Australia has a government that is wonderful by comparison with the governments of Queensland and New South Wales, where all these requirements are attended to in housing commission settlements!

Mr Forbes - The South Australian Government has built many more homes.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am glad that the honorable member has made that interjection. The fact is that, per 1,000 of the population, fewer homes are being built in South Australia than in any other State.

Mr Forbes - That is not true.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That is true. The honorable member should refer to the official statistics. I am pleased to say that the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) supports me in this. He is an authority on housing and has spent a great deal of his time studying the subject. If the honorable member for Barker consults the official statistics, he will see that what T have said is perfectly true.

I want to refer now, if I may, to another aspect of government finance in South Australia that I think ought to have been considered by the Commonwealth Grants Com.misison. I think it is a terrible thing that the commission, year after year, should neglect to rebuke the South Australian Government for its failure to do something for the age pensioners by giving them fare concessions. The commission ought to tell the South Australian Government, not only that it would allow a claim against it in respect of such concessions, but also that it is the South Australian Government's duty to give pensioners these concessions, and that, if it does not do so in any financial year, a penalty will be imposed upon it in the next. South Australia is one of the few States in which age pensioners do not get fare concessions. The honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) poses in this place as the great champion of the pensioners, but have we ever heard him criticize the South Australian Government for its persistent refusal to give to the pensioners fare concessions of the kind that they receive in the States administered by Labour governments. In New South Wales, the State from which the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) comes, the Labour government, long years ago. gave the pensioners this special benefit by way of concession fares. But has the honorable member for Sturt ever risen in this chamber and criticized the Liberal Premier of South Australia for not giving pensioners similar concessions? Of course he has not.

Mr Curtin - Look at him hanging his head.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Of course, and how could he avoid hanging his head in these circumstances! What has the South Australian Government ever done to provide blankets for the pensioners, as is done in New South Wales? The Adelaide " News " recently conducted a public appeal to obtain funds with which to buy blankets for the poor old pensioners - blankets that should have been provided by the State Government. My friend, the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin), who has always taken a keen interest in the pensioners, has handed me a clipping from the Adelaide "Advertiser" of 24th September, which states-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member has had a lot of latitude. He is now getting well away from the subject of States grants.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am referring particularly to States grants which provide for public welfare. It seems to me that the South Australian Government can always be relied upon to reduce those items of public expenditure that would help the little man and to stick rigidly to proposals for increased expenditure that will help the big employing sections of the community. During the last five or six weeks, the South Australian Government, as was mentioned by the Commonwealth Grants Commission, reduced public expenditure by cutting by a considerable amount expenditure on the Children's Welfare and Public Relief Department. Although the cost of living is still rising in South Australia, the Government there has decided, for some reason best known to itself, to review the whole question of supplementary payments made to widows and destitute people.

I have knowledge of an age pensioner who has thirteen children, all but one of whom are under sixteen years of age. His wife is expecting another child in two months' time. He has been in receipt of certain payments from the welfare authorities. His wife is only 42 or 43 years of age, but she cannot work. She has a large family to care for and her husband is well over 70 - I think he is 76. This man was receiving a supplementary pension, which gave him a total income, including child endowment, or about £16 or £17 a week. But for some reason or other the welfare authorities in South Australia reduced the amount paid to him. Senator Toohey and I have been interested in these matters for a long time, and we have had at least twenty cases brought to our notice in the last two or three weeks in which the South Australian Government has sought to do the kind of thing I have just spoken about. It is shocking that a State government that pays so much attention to the requirements of big undertakings, such as Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and General Motors-Holden's Limited, should allow 3,000 pensioners to be waiting for houses. That is the official figure, because the chairman of the Housing Trust in South

Australia has announced that 3,000 applications for emergency dwellings are now outstanding, and in the main those applications are from age pensioners.

I thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your leniency, especially in view of the fact that I have just referred to the matter that you stopped me from quoting a little while ago.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

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